Earlier this month, we looked at 5 reasons print should be part of your content marketing strategy. This week, we’re going to take a look at some of the “post-COVID” signage that has started to appear among restaurant businesses and identify exactly why this is helping restaurants reopen with the easing of lockdown restrictions. Maybe there is something in this list that you can add to your marketing collateral or Covid-19 survival pack to enhance the experience of your customers in your eatery going forward. 

As more businesses reopen, their need for signage as well as other printed materials will increase (if it hasn’t already). Sure, some of these materials are (we hope!) temporary, but others will likely be with us for some time, or even stay with us and become the new normal long after the virus is no longer an issue. 

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12% of consumers said they would never eat in a restaurant again…

In a recent study, it was found that 12% of consumers said they will never eat out at a restaurant ever again (are you sure?). Two-thirds (67%) will but cautiously, and one-fifth (21%) will go back to normal eating-out habits. As with other retail businesses, it’s going to be all about customer comfort. Restaurants and other eateries are implementing their own policies to not only ensure diner safety, but also to allay customer fears. Take a look for example at Café & Konditorei Rothe in Germany that has turned to asking customers to wear pool noodles on their heads to enforce social distancing, while maintaining a lighthearted, comfortable approach to the situation at hand. 

German cafe makes patrons wear pool noodle hats

Café & Konditorei Rothe in Germany enforces social distancing with pool noodle hats.

But printers can improve those statistics.

In terms of how printers are actually helping these businesses, it is no secret by now that Printulu fully endorses using well-designed, brand-consistent, and professionally produced collateral. Using professional door/entry signage (“no mask, no entry”), floor decals (“Stay 1 meter apart”), and other display graphics (for example branded sanitiser stations and entrance portals) are useful and important extensions of a particular establishment’s brand and should be as seamlessly integrated into messaging, signage, and other environmental graphics as possible.

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This situation is temporary, yes. So you may be asking, “What’s the real use of all these printed items when they’ll only be necessary for a short period of time?” The problem is, while Covid-19 is temporary, we have no real idea of how long this “temporary” situation will actually last. It could be months still, if not longer (please, no). So while a hand-written sign would have done just fine in the beginning of the pandemic, it may now just seem like your establishment does not care about really putting the safety of your customers first. And really, isn’t any business relationship all about trust?

What is everyone ordering?

With the initial rush to adapt to the new normal, many businesses – especially printing companies – have expanded on their offerings in the pursuit to be a one stop shop for all your needs. As such, you no longer need to think purely signage and boards when it comes to printing for your restaurant. There’s a lot more to offer. Expand your horizons and maybe save a little instead of using your last bit of marketing budget on a massive sign. There are many other print applications in addition to signs and display graphics that restaurants in particular will need in a “post-COVID” dining environment. Things like:

Single-use print items.

Sustainable? Nope. Probably not at all. But that cautious 67% are the restaurant patrons that you need to appease with this. They are not going to be happy about holding menus that who-knows-how-many people have touched. According to a study from Inspire Group called Eating 2020: How COVID-19 Will Change Consumer Engagement With Food, 37% of patrons would be extremely or very worried about getting sick from other customers.) That’s not a statistic you can ignore if you want to survive this time as a business. Think printed paper menus, paper menus, etc.

Take out menus.

Think outside the proverbial box. Take out menus are a great way to make the use-once items reusable. How about handing out take out menus to diners and having them take their menus home with them? That way, they can reuse their menus whenever they come back. For fine dining, this may not be ideal. But if this works with your brand, go for it.

PPE items.

Protection for your restaurant staff. Everywhere we go right now, it feels like we’re in some post-apocalyptic movie where everyone is wearing maximum protective gear reminiscent of space suits. It’s not fun, no. But in order to retain a feeling of utter safety and comfort for your diners, your staff may need to be decked out similarly. A huge way print businesses have started to help multiple industries is by expanding their range to include PPE in their portfolios. Disposable 3-ply Masks, KN-95 Masks and Brandable Face Shields are all just part of this.

Promotional materials.

This is the perfect time for restaurants to take advantage of direct mail not only to promote the fact that they are newly reopened, but what their hours are, what safety policies are in place, if reservations are required, and other information, as well as potential discounts, coupons, or specials. The biggest challenge restaurants are facing right now is limited occupancy, and thus making enough off each diner for the reopening to be cost-effective, if not profitable. The obvious result is a raise in prices. This is why coupons or special deals and loyalty programs – sent via direct mail – may well be highly welcomed by potential patrons.

It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine… 

R.E.M., anyone? These are, as we all know, unprecedented times. Reopening restaurants responsibly will require some investment in these kinds of items to both ensure customer safety and reassure potential customers about that safety and comfort. A little creative thought can make these items more playful, lighthearted and less doom-and-gloom. Think pool noodles and larger than life sombreros. 

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